Erica Owens graduated from BYU last year after a legendary career, recording 142 saves and a 31-6 record as goalkeeper, and now the Cougars are looking for someone to fill those cleats this season.
The goalkeeper position was expected to be filled by junior Hilary Kaufusi; however, Kaufusi was sidelined for the season with an injury, forcing the coaches to look at both young and veteran players to fill the hole left by Owens.
Katherine Snyder and Hannah Clark are stepping up to fill Owens’ spot. Snyder, a senior, has been on the squad since 2010 but has only seen action in four games prior to this season.
This season is a different story. Snyder has played in all five of the Cougars’ preseason games and is currently splitting time with freshman Hannah Clark.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Snyder said. “I have always wanted to play my best for my team regardless of where I was in the lineup, or whether it’s cheering my team on, or I’m out on the field.”
Snyder currently has 10 saves this season and has allowed only one goal. Clark has also been successful, making nine saves and allowing three goals. Snyder and Clark have split halves in the net in all the preseason games. The two goalkeepers combined for a shutout in the Cougars’ tie vs. Washington State and their win over Tennessee.
McKinzee Olson, who helps coach the keepers, said she has no plans to name a starting keeper anytime soon.
“Right now we are happy with how things are going; we think as far as a goalkeeping unit, we look really good,” Olson said. “We feel as though as long as it’s not broken don’t fix it. We feel comfortable with them splitting time.”
The Cougars look to bounce back with the help of their goalkeepers after two losses last week by one goal against both Baylor and Utah. The goalkeepers feel the pressure of knowing they could lose their time on the field or win the starting position with a strong performance.
“If someone shows that they deserve the starting spot, we are not opposed to that,” Olson said, referring to playing only one keeper instead of splitting time.
Both keepers are well rounded in every area, but each brings her own individual strengths. Olson pointed out that Clark was valuable in defending breakaways, while Snyder is especially good at saving outside shots.
Fortunately for BYU, both Clark and Snyder are prepared to bring their “A” game to the field. Clark hopes to make a successful career debut, while Snyder looks to make her final season a memorable one.
“It hits me every now and again – it’s my last season and it’s a little surreal,” Snyder said. “I try not to dwell on it; I want to enjoy the moments I do have and make it a great senior year.”